Michelle Viscusi (courtesy forum.pfoa.org)

Share of Homes With Guns Shows 4-Decade Decline the front page of the New York Times proclaims. I’ll leave it to more statistically-minded members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia to dissect the General Social Survey’s methodology. Suffice it to say, it’s entirely possible that the number of respondents admitting that they have a firearm in their home may be declining—especially over the last year. By the Times’ own admission, “Gallup, which asks a similar question but has a different survey design, shows a higher ownership rate and a more moderate decrease.” Here’s the thing about that . . .

If we head over to gallup.com (the Times somehow forgot to link) we discover that they interviewed three times as many people (6k) and came up with the same number. Only Gallup says . . .

Across those six data sets, an average of 30% of Americans said they personally own a gun. Another 14% did not personally own a gun but live in a household with someone who does.

I don’t know how much overlap exists between the two data sets, but I make that a lot closer to 50 percent that General Social Survey’s 34 percent. And another thing. The Times says . . .

The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s and 35 percent in the 2000s, according to the survey data, analyzed by The New York Times.

In 2012, the share of American households with guns was 34 percent, according to survey results released on Thursday. Researchers said the difference compared with 2010, when the rate was 32 percent, was not statistically significant.

Wait. That means that the survey reveals a two percent increase in the last three years. Equally interesting, the man behind the General Social Survey points out that there’s only one way to get an accurate picture of American gun ownership:

Tom W. Smith, the director of the General Social Survey . . . acknowledged the rise in background checks, but said it was impossible to tell how many were for new gun owners. The checks are reported as one total that includes, for example, people buying their second or third gun, as well as those renewing concealed carry permits.

“If there was a national registry that recorded all firearm purchases, we’d have a full picture,” he said. “But there’s not, so we’ve got to put together pieces.”

Absent that particular Constitutional abuse, the Times turns to Dr. Daniel Webster director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research for analysis of the [alleged] trend of declining gun ownership.

Somehow the Times forgets to mention that it’s the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center for Gun Policy and Research [emphasis added]. As in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire backer of the Mayors Against Gun Ownership Ilegal Guns.

Urbanization also helped drive the decline. Rural areas, where gun ownership is the highest, are now home to about 17 percent of Americans, down from 27 percent in the 1970s. According to the survey, just 23 percent of households in cities owned guns in the 2000s, compared with 56 percent of households in rural areas. That was down from 70 percent of rural households in the 1970s.

So the places where it’s hardest for Americans to exercise their constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms is the place where gun ownership rates are low. Who’d-a thunk it? Provided we’re talking about legal guns.

The country’s changing demographics may also play a role. While the rate of gun ownership among women has remained relatively constant over the years at about 10 percent, which is less than one-third of the rate among men today, more women are heading households without men, another possible contributor to the decline in household gun ownership. Women living in households where there were guns that were not their own declined to a fifth in 2012 down from a third in 1980.

So there are more households than before, which would dilute the percentage of gun ownership. Got it.

The increase of Hispanics as a share of the American population is also probably having an effect, as they are far less likely to own guns. In the survey results since 2000, about 14 percent of Hispanics reported having a gun in their house.

What are the odds that Hispanics are FAR less likely to report a gun in their home than Anglos?

Anyway, we’ve been saying it since we began: the more Americans who own guns, the safer all of our gun rights will be. The NRA and others should take their cue from Mr. Leghorn and get newbies on the range.

60 Responses to More Guns Fewer People?

  1. That’s still at least a third of Americans who own guns. If that were a skin color, we’d be the largest “minority” group in this country. We must be more vocal about our rights, and we have to share gun culture with anyone who is interested–regardless of political party, sexual orientation, religion, or any other factor that has nothing to do with the moral character of a person.

    • +300

      The trick is to share it in a way that is inclusive and attractive to those who don’t know guns or understand why they are so important. If the person is skeptical of ARs but interested in a 22lr, shoot the 22 and don’t berate them about the AR, if they like the 22 an opening has been created for friendly, patient persuasion.

    • And as a demographic that large, I’d bet that gun owners are among the most law-abiding. Which, ironically, could be our Achilles’ heel. If the disarmers can get all, or most, of us “deemed” criminals, a lot of us will naturally want to come back into the fold. Comply. Surrender.

      • I am getting really tired of this whole “law abiding” meme. I do what is right, what is good. It doesn’t matter what edicts are passed down by politicians. There are plenty of laws I break. Because the actions cause no harm or loss to anyone else and because honestly, those actions are none of the government’s business. The KGB, Gestapo and Pol Pot’s killers were all “law abiding”.

        • The idea is to get people to call one’s commands “the law”. This encourages obedience.

          Morally, I’m unfortunately not law abiding. This does not mean I’m not a responsible and trustworthy gun owner.

    • Political party? Good luck. The incessant rantings about the “libtards” and the evil Democrats right here on this site make it clear that the majority of gun owners aren’t looking for allies, they are looking for ideological purity.

      If you have ever dared to put something above guns on your personal voting priorities list you can fu*k right off as far as they are concerned.

      This despite the fact that the Democrats are going to listen a little closer to a gun owner who writes them about their 2A concerns and has also voted for Democrats.

      Frankly I’m goddamn tired of trying.

        • I’m a Democrat who cares about gun rights. I’m decidedly not a libertarian, because I consider the libertarian economic platform completely and utterly insane.

          (which does not preclude me from teaming up with libertarians on common issues, from gay rights and drug legalization to 2A – so long, of course, as they don’t call me a “libtard” or some such)

      • The Democratic Party stands for gun control as does it’s party’s leader. It’s a fact and the sooner you admit it the better for you and us all. If you place something other that the protection of our rights at the top of your reasons for vetoing then you are freedoms foe and a fool.

        • I place the protection of my rights and freedoms at the top of my reasons, but the right to own and bear arms is not the single most important one of those rights and freedoms that is currently being encroached on – and Republican party has been championing the assault on all those other freedoms for the last decade.

        • int19h, the only thing that keeps a government from saying to hell with any and all rights is an armed populace. So yes, the 2A is the most important. Without it, you don’t have rights…you have privileges.

        • You guys keep saying that, but I’ve yet to see any of those proudly proclaiming that they own gun to resist tyranny to, you know, actually resist it.

          I don’t really buy into the whole “government is afraid of the armed populace” argument, either. Pretty much every household in Saddam’s Iraq had at least one full auto AK, and most had several. Did it help them? Not really, because the government had more guns and enough loyal people to arm them to contain any individual attempt to defy it before it could turn into a full-fledged rebellion.

      • The Democratic Party creates the most laws and wants to place the most controls on the people. If you think giving gay people the privilege to marry and allowing women to murder their unborn babies is more important than protecting the Constitution and limiting government, then you should vote democrat because you have absolutely no idea what freedom means. Democrats that support the Second Amendment are an oxymoron. You do not support the Second Amendment, you just support what makes you feel good at the time. Democrats have no principles.

        • I don’t know. From where I’m sitting, it seems that pushing for gun rights for all while deriding gay marriage and the choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy seems more oxymoronic than the other way around. And possibly just plain ol moronic in general.

        • Thanks for concisely proving his point.

          By the way, if you want to see how you actually sound, substitute gay rights with racial equality in your post. “If you think giving black people the privilege to vote …” etc.

        • You may be confusing Democrats (e.g., JFK) with Progressives (e.g., Obama). True, the Progressives have been working through the Democratic party for a long time, and are kind of running the show right now. They do indeed have no principals to speak of. Old-style Democrats (who are in favor of a strong America) are a bit of a different animal. I don’t see eye to eye with them on many issues, but they generally are not enemies bent on destroying American institutions. Progressives fit that description much more closely.

    • Ok here are some additional numbers.
      In California, 70% of crime is done by gang related Hispanics. Most of those involve guns. I don’t think if Gallup gives them a call they are going to brag to someone over the phone about their gats!
      Also if someone called my home and asked me if I owned a gun, I would not answer any questions either. Given the world we live in today, I am not answering any questions about that, and I have a feeling since 2008 many Americans feel the same way. Based on that alone I would say any information gathered by a telephone is bogus, or at least not very accurate.
      Some of there conclusions are accurate, like urban living where there are strict laws against armed self defense the numbers are lower. Now remember this is for legal gun ownership, we haven’t even talked about all the illegal ones.

  2. Who in this day and age would admit to owning a gun to a poll, or really anyone they don’t know extremely well?

    • In their report, Gallup mentions that many gun owners fear persecution and thus don’t admit to owning a gun when asked – so they openly admit that their numbers are lower than the actual numbers.

      • If anyone called me and asked if I own a gun, I’d ask why they wanted to know. Even if they gave a legitimate reason such as a survey like this I don’t know if how willing I’d be to share.

  3. It’s not anywhere near accurate. Who here would answer the question about gun ownership if a stranger called your house and asked? Keep in mind they couldn’t tell you where they were calling from or who was backing the survey. Surveys can be severely skewed based on how the questing is asked. This is a junk study, period.

  4. These articles are nothing more than the gun-grabbers trying to make themselves feel better about failing to pass meaningful gun control.

    Post Newton, they were convinced that the American people would wake up to the threat of guns violence and that an assault weapons ban would sail through Congress. Now they are realizing they were wrong. But instead of accepting the fact that millions upon millions of Americans strongly oppose gun control, they are trying to blame the NRA or the gun industry. They are also trying to make themselves feel better by claiming that gun ownership is in decline, essentially that in time we backwards gun owners will die out and that they will eventually win.

    • There’s a “Newton” in Whatsachusetts. But the town name you’re looking for is NEWTOWN. But if you’re seeking quick communication. Nearly everyone responds to “Sandy Hook”.

      Strange event. It’s been written that the cops “identified” the children from “yearbook photos”. Would YOU ever allow your child to be buried without you ever viewing the body? Yet we’re told no parents saw their child’s body!

  5. The last 4 months 2mm + background checks for gun purchases per month according to the FBI. and yet these “journalists” want to sell us on the idea that there are fewer gun owners out there.

    Don’t piss on my boots and try to tell me it’s raining.

  6. This sort of reminds me of the Kinsey reports, which offered extremely skewed numbers on people’s sexual preferences simply because the overwhelming majority of people in the 40’s and 50’s weren’t willing to discuss private matters like that with a creepy old guy in a labcoat, so most of their answers came from swingers, prostitutes and the gay community.

    Same deal here. If someone calls you up and starts asking about how many guns you have at home, are you willing to tell him the truth? I’m suprised none of the response categories was simply the word “Fuggoff!”

  7. Didnt the poll show that MOST of the socalled decline was from the libtard democrat side and that conservative ownership was relatively unchanged over the decades percentage wise? If you must have a reduction of firearms ownership from a certain demographic, I could not think of a better one.
    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  8. Since they are using the “number of households” as the standard, let us not forget that there has been a significant number of new households added that are the result of divorce over the past 40 years. The number of people have dropped “per household” due to this social event. This is how politicians making the argument that “household income” has been stagnant or dropped over the past 40 years, but the “per capita” income has increased significantly. If you have a household of two parents (each making $40k), one working teen (making $5k), and an underage child, that’s $85k for the “household” – but if they divorce, then each household only makes $40-45k – cutting “household income” in half. Even if they each got a $10k raise, they would be reported as having a 25% drop in income for the “household.” Apply that same logic to the article – if only one “household” keeps the gun, then there is a 50% drop in “number of households with a firearm” – which is what the NYT article is stating. If five divorces happen to firearms holding households, but 3 of the 10 don’t go out and get a gun, then there is a 30% drop in “households with firearms.” Read some of Thomas Sowell’s works on economic fallacies for more information. However, I am fairly sure this is the trick they are using to push the storyline.

  9. Illustrates difference between the social “sciences ” and hard sciences. Even in biology you would want all sorts of calibration data before trusting a sampling survey. Here they ask folks and that is it. According to Dick Morris Mitt Romney should be President. Enough said.

  10. the conclusion of the study “The high level of gun ownership in the United States — nearly one in three Americans personally own a gun and nearly half of households do…”
    (in the implication sections)

    did the Times misread the study?

  11. Another example of why i don’t read the new york times. They wanted to write a story, they had an idea of what it should be about. The researched and found very loose and suspect data that proved their idea. They write a story around it. If i handed in a paper like that in college with skeptical data, i would have gotten an F. Yet, these people are allowed to write and make the front page, their word is taken like factual gold.

  12. They note in the article that estimates range from 35-52% but chose to focus on the one. Bias maybe? Surveys are also subject to a lot of influences that make them inaccurate. Particularly on this topic, I can see people that will answer incorrectly or refuse to answer. Based on the number of guns being manufactured and imported I find it difficult to think that is the case since gun manufacture/imports have more than doubled since 1986.

  13. The NRA should be out there promoting safe and secure gun use and ownership. They should be promoting training and proficiency with media outreach and advertising to support visiting local local ranges to experience gun use and safe practices. Educate and involve the uninformed through MSM advertising. That may be the only means of getting our message and the truth out to the uninitiated public.

    Of course, I’m certain the MSM will charge through the nose for the ad time, if they are willing to aire it at all.

    What can we do; Donate to the NRA or your states 2A advocate organization such as the Cal Guns Foundation in Kalifornia.!! This 5h1t costs $$$.

  14. For the record Robert we get it. You like guns. You like chicks. You like chicks w/ guns. I know you could try to pass this fetish off as “empowerment” but at least I know better 🙂

  15. I love that part about how 30 plus 14, allowing for some overlap, is “closer to 50.

    Keep spinnin’ it, Robert. Your AI just lap it up.

    What both the NYT and the Gallup surveys say is that all your talk about first time gun buyers and women buying guns in nonsense. The panicky run on guns and ammo is being done by gullible gun owners who are stupid enough to buy the NRA’s scare tactics. You’re doing your part too.

    • I just met an 87 yr old woman who bought her first Pistol. A Glock. She had a shotgun (her husband’s) but since he’s dead her son said she needed something he thought she could shoot. She went to a range and tried the pistol. She chose a 9mm. I know the guys at all my local Gun shops. They have tons of new customers. The ranges locally are full. 2 new have been built in the last year. A third is in construction. All within 40 mile radius.
      So you’re wrong in your response. There are new gun buyers, as well as people who already own buying more. All the local shops have thin supplies on their shelves.

      So as for spin. You must yourself be dizzy.

      • I met a lady this weekend, nurse, firefighter husband, 3 kids 13-20. Just bought their first firearms and started shooting this year. I -“ah you are one of them!” She -“yes we are”. A XDm and a M&P. Informed choices I thought.

        • Typical of you. Libs, dems and those generally on the left. What is not “funny” is that they will look you in the eye and lie. But what is “funny” and sad is that they actually believe their own lies. Let not the truth get in the way of my aganda.
          You put blinders on a working horse keeps them focused and undistracted. They can see where they are going. How many bruises do you have on you face? Blinders go to the side not in front of your eyes.

          Someone gives you facts, and you discount them and call them lies. “They are not trying to ban guns” yet they are banning them. ” They don’t want to stop hunters.” Yet the bill in Colorado classifies a shotgun as a banned gun.

          If I slapped you in the face and said I didn’t would it still sting? Would it be my lie? Get real. Move out from under your bridge and be confident in the troll you are.

  16. As the old saying goes, lies, damned lies and statistics. Even if the survey is 100% correct, that means 1 in every 3 American homes has at least one gun. That’s a full THIRD of the country! That equates to some180 MILLION or so people — hardly insignificant. And what is the POINT of the article anyway? Do we evaluate our basic civil rights by popularity? So, for instance, if church attendance drops below a certain level, should we champion the removal of the freedom of religion from the First Amendment? There is zero logic behind this “study,” and minus a goal or purposeful conclusion, it reveals a political motive. I proclaim this POLITRICKS!!!

    • Hey, newspaper circulation has been declining by HUGE numbers over the last 20 years. Time to eliminate that old-fashioned “freedom of the press” – no one really NEEDS newspapers now that we have the internet [created by Al Gore].

    • Michelle Viscusi… She’s Both. From her bio:

      Michelle Viscusi is a Military Police officer with the Border Patrol who learned to shoot in the United States Army.

  17. Gun ownership is exploding and near ubiquitous in “conservative” areas. Access to guns is ubiquitous, except for “law abiding” people in certain cities.

  18. My thought on these polls is a great big “so what?”. Even if these polls revealed true numbers (which I highly doubt), so what? If the majority of people decide not to exercise their rights, does the right go away? I think not. If the majority of people decide to not arm themselves that is their choice. Personally I’d rather be the Lemming that didn’t jump than to just join in with the crowd because the polls said everyone else was doing it.
    PS. I don’t respond to polls. This poll would only be meaningful if YES, NO, and REFUSES TO ANSWER were all tallied.

  19. I have to admit that I find these polls to be discouraging – I mean, I am shocked! SHOCKED! to find that there are that many gun owners still willing to admit to a stranger, over the phone, that they have guns in the house. The vast majority of the gun owners I know generally hang up on pollsters, unless they decide to have a bit of fun by lying on every other question. Will they admit that they are gun owners to an anonymous pollster? Dream on.

    If you look at the time period from 1973 to 2010, the decline in people willing to admit to gun ownership (50% to 34%) is less than the decline in the number of people who trust the media (72% down to 40%). Which proves that we should eliminate the media, right? [www.gallup.com/poll/1663/Media-Use-Evaluation.aspx]

  20. Problem with this claimed “statistic”=

    All gun shops and sellers have been cleared out now in repeated ‘runs’ on any sort of HiCap capable firearms, in anticipation of future scarcity or bans..

    Those doing this buying in the majority of cases are people who were either non-gun owners, or had previously only owned antique or niche firearms of a non-“tactical” variety.
    Those who were already gun owners like me, did not buy any guns after the ban-attempts started recently, we actually SOLD them, since I could get more for now scarce ammo and firearms than I paid for them and I did not need the items I was parting out..

    The second part of why the statistic is bad – Who is considered a “American Household”?
    That is a fairly loaded term, that could be used to mean a variety of things.. Someone who is a Illegal Alien or Recent Legal Immigrant, who are larger pct of the population that even in US history, are not in many cases “US Households”, they are foreign nationals who happen to be in the USA.

    Is a renter / casual roommate in a shared apt a “US Household” and can they within the study criteria answer for the “houshold” or would each roommate be considered a separate household. Would 6 illegal aliens from mexico in a shared apt be considered a US Household in the study, and what about the households who dont wish to tell a unknown caller who at very best is paid by a anti-gun group conducting a alleged “Poll” whether they own guns or have guns in their home..

    The day is long past that most people who are gun owners are going to randomly tell people they do not know who are calling them “Yuppers… got my valuable collection of firearms right here in this here house you are for some reason allegedly calling at random- lots of ammo too!”

    There is no decrease in ownership of american households, if anything there is a marked and undeniable increase, or you would be able to find common firearms in stock right now, which in reality you cannot.. What is diminishing is the # of people who will tell a anonymous caller about their gun possession/ownership, along with a large population of illegal aliens or gray-market aliens who came in on a VISA and have overstayed, who cannot legally obtain a firearm and are very numerous for the first time in MOST american population centers, although they are not actually American CITIZENS..

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